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MULTIMILLION DOLLAR REFINERY TRIAL AGAINST CVR ENERGY INVOLVING TWO FATALITIES TO START NEXT WEEK IN RICHMOND

September 14, 2015, 7:17 pm

MULTIMILLION DOLLAR REFINERY TRIAL AGAINST CVR ENERGY INVOLVING TWO FATALITIES TO START NEXT WEEK IN RICHMOND

Summary Of Facts:

Richmond, Texas. Multiple law firms are preparing for a major trial next week in the boiler explosion deaths of Russell Mann and Billy Smith, operational engineers for CVR Energies owned Wynnewood Refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The trial is expected to last for several weeks and will include numerous experts and witnesses including CVR CEO Jack Lipinski.

The explosion occurred on September 28, 2012 when Mann and Smith were tasked with re-lighting a 1964 model Wickes steam boiler which had been previously shut down during a major turnaround project at the refinery. The Wickes boiler was not updated and not equipped with a BMS (Boiler Management System) which would have allowed the boiler to be re-started remotely from a safe distance, and instead required ‘manual lighting’ by Mann, Smith and 3 other co-workers.

OSHA investigated the September 28, 2012 incident and cited the plant with numerous “serious” and “repeat “violations pertaining to the Wickes Boiler. Attorneys for the Mann and Smith families, Brent Coon, Gary Reibschlager and Richard Tate, claim yet another case of greedy companies putting profits before people”. Both Mann and Smith are survived by their wives (LeeAnna and Kari respectively) and children.

Full Release:

Teams of lawyers from at least six law firms have begun converging on the City of Richmond Texas this week in final preparations for a multi-million dollar trial involving the deaths of two refinery workers. Judge James H. Shoemake has set the case for trial on September 22, 2015. The case involves a devastating boiler explosion which killed two long term employees of the CVR Energies owned Wynnewood Refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Russell Mann (age 45) and Billy Smith (age 34) were employed at Wynnewood as operational engineers.

Born and raised around Wynnewood, Mann had been employed with the facility since 2008. Russell, a down home family man, was married to his wife, LeeAnna, for 27 years and had two sons, Tyler and Anthony and two granddaughters, Lillian and Adaya. An avid sportsman and outdoorsman, he spent the better part of 45 years hunting, working out, enjoying his hobby of martial arts and raising a good and solid family.

“You expect your spouse to come home after work, just not in a coffin”, says LeeAnna Mann, an active member of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF) whose slogan is “Going to work shouldn’t be a grave mistake”.

Billy Smith too was an area resident, employed with the facility since 2008. Billy was married to his wife Kari for three years and was an extraordinary father to her three children, Carson, Makenna and Makayla. Billy and Kari had just welcomed their new born son, Rogan, into the family at the time of his untimely death. Billy, always armed with a contagious smile, was known to all for his happy-go-lucky style and unyielding dedication to his family.

The case is expected to last several weeks, and will include expert testimony from mechanical engineers, refinery experts medical examiners, economists and refinery engineers as well as a host of other witnesses, including the victims family members, co-workers, and CVR managers, including CVR CEO Jack Lipinski, who the Plaintiffs have also subpoenaed for the trial.

The tragedy occurred on September 28, 2012. Mann and Smith were tasked with re-lighting an old 1964 model Wickes steam boiler which had been previously shut down during a major turnaround project at the refinery. Since the Wickes boiler was not updated and not equipped with a BMS (Boiler Management System) which would have allowed the boiler to be re-started remotely from a safe distance, Mann and Smith, along with 3 other co-workers had to light and restart the boiler manually. Tragically, the boiler exploded during the process. Both Mann and Smith died as a result of the horrific injuries sustained from the explosion.

The families retained Brent Coon of Brent Coon and Associates (BCA) to sue for the losses. Coon brought in Gary Riebschlager, now of Gary Riebschlager Law Firm, and additional attorneys associated with his firm. Local counsel was also retained with well known and respected trial attorney Richard Tate with Tate, Moeher and King of Richmond, Texas. The firm further enhanced the appellate side of the legal team with the retention of former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina, who had previously been a member of the BCA firm. The target defendant CVR Energy Inc, initially retained counsel, Lee Smithyman of Smithyman & Zakoura, headquartered in Kansas and Terry Fitzgerald of Houston based Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, L.P. Since then Terry Fitzgerald has been replaced as Texas counsel with Phillip Sharp of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom, L.L.P.

The plaintiffs maintain that CVR Energy, as the owner of the facility, failed to install a BMS (Boiler Management System) on the Wickes Boiler, failed to install BMC (Boiler Modulating Control) on all heating equipment as recommended by OSHA and the State of Oklahoma; failed to adequately monitor the dangerous condition of the Wynnewood Refinery, including the Wickes Boiler, failed to alleviate hazardous conditions that cause injury or death to workers, failed to repair hazardous conditions causing injury or death to workers, including the Wickes boiler, and failed to comply with OSHA directives/orders to install BMS (Burner Management System) on the Wickes boiler.

OSHA investigated the September 28, 2012 incident and cited the plant with numerous “serious” and “repeat “violations pertaining to the Wickes Boiler.

“We believe one of the most damning facts is that the company generated over $150 million in revenue in 2012 and that CVR Energy CEO Jack Lipinski alone made an additional $16,336,00 in bonuses just for the same year these men were killed, but yet funding to replace the old boiler system or make it safe just was not provided. There was more than enough money to go around for the millionaire managers and board directors to have directed just a small portion of their enormous profits to much needed improved worker safety, says Gary Riebschlager.

“The loss of life in any workplace incident is tragic and heartbreaking for everyone, especially to the family of the worker. What is most damning in almost all refinery fatalities is that the root cause invariably has something to do with the companies decision not to reinvest some of their enormous profits back into the facility with improved working conditions and safety considerations, says Brent Coon. “Time and time again our firm has seen this failure to reinvest in the workers and the assets directly resulting in loss of life, from Phillips Pasadena in 1989, to BP Texas City in 2005, to BP again in the Gulf Deepwater Horizon rig failure in 2010 and most recently in the Dupont, LaPorte incident just last year. This incident was directly due to decisions to continue to operate a unit with antiquated and worn out equipment, which put the workers at unnecessarily high risk of injury. Even worse, it was a refusal to reinvest in the assets at a time when all the corporate officers here in Texas were rewarding themselves with multimillion dollar bonuses. The greed never seems to end”.

“I have been working on this case every week for several years now, and throughout all the depositions and discovery we now have the full story of what happened and why it happened. It is frankly shocking what lack of concern was demonstrated to maintaining safe operations at the Oklahoma facility”, says Reibschlager. “CVR knew that this refinery was in need of repairs well before they acquired it, specifically in addressing items such as boilers that were so old you had to light them by hand, even though nowadays these are all capable of safe automated ignition sourcing”.

Yeah, and I am surprised they weren’t still utilizing covered wagons and mules to haul supplies around at that refinery”, adds Coon.

BCA is certainly no stranger to high stakes litigation, particularly in the petrochemical arena. Firm founder Brent Coon served as lead counsel in the BP Texas City explosion, which killed 15 and injured thousands. That case ultimately involved several years of intense litigation, numerous trials, over a dozen appeals, and at least one appearance before the Supreme Court which ironically included Justice Medina at the time sitting on the bench. The case resulted in over a billion dollars in recoveries and another billion dollars committed to facility upgrades, and a plea agreement with the Department of Justice to 15 counts of felony manslaughter. “Gary and the team have done a great job getting this case trial ready and while I am baffled that yet another arrogant oil company wants to face a jury with these types of facts rather than settle, we are very anxious to have the opportunity to present this case to the community and our clients are very anxious to finally have their day in court and obtain some closure. The explosion ripped apart their lives and their families, and the healing won’t even begin to start until this case is resolved” says Coon. “Gary and I worked well together a few months ago in another successful verdict and look forward to working with our full legal team in finally obtaining justice for these families in the coming weeks”.

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MULTIMILLION DOLLAR REFINERY TRIAL AGAINST CVR ENERGY INVOLVING TWO FATALITIES TO START NEXT WEEK IN RICHMOND

September 14, 2015, 7:17 pm

MULTIMILLION DOLLAR REFINERY TRIAL AGAINST CVR ENERGY INVOLVING TWO FATALITIES TO START NEXT WEEK IN RICHMOND

Summary Of Facts:

Richmond, Texas. Multiple law firms are preparing for a major trial next week in the boiler explosion deaths of Russell Mann and Billy Smith, operational engineers for CVR Energies owned Wynnewood Refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. The trial is expected to last for several weeks and will include numerous experts and witnesses including CVR CEO Jack Lipinski.

The explosion occurred on September 28, 2012 when Mann and Smith were tasked with re-lighting a 1964 model Wickes steam boiler which had been previously shut down during a major turnaround project at the refinery. The Wickes boiler was not updated and not equipped with a BMS (Boiler Management System) which would have allowed the boiler to be re-started remotely from a safe distance, and instead required ‘manual lighting’ by Mann, Smith and 3 other co-workers.

OSHA investigated the September 28, 2012 incident and cited the plant with numerous “serious” and “repeat “violations pertaining to the Wickes Boiler. Attorneys for the Mann and Smith families, Brent Coon, Gary Reibschlager and Richard Tate, claim yet another case of greedy companies putting profits before people”. Both Mann and Smith are survived by their wives (LeeAnna and Kari respectively) and children.

Full Release:

Teams of lawyers from at least six law firms have begun converging on the City of Richmond Texas this week in final preparations for a multi-million dollar trial involving the deaths of two refinery workers. Judge James H. Shoemake has set the case for trial on September 22, 2015. The case involves a devastating boiler explosion which killed two long term employees of the CVR Energies owned Wynnewood Refinery in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. Russell Mann (age 45) and Billy Smith (age 34) were employed at Wynnewood as operational engineers.

Born and raised around Wynnewood, Mann had been employed with the facility since 2008. Russell, a down home family man, was married to his wife, LeeAnna, for 27 years and had two sons, Tyler and Anthony and two granddaughters, Lillian and Adaya. An avid sportsman and outdoorsman, he spent the better part of 45 years hunting, working out, enjoying his hobby of martial arts and raising a good and solid family.

“You expect your spouse to come home after work, just not in a coffin”, says LeeAnna Mann, an active member of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF) whose slogan is “Going to work shouldn’t be a grave mistake”.

Billy Smith too was an area resident, employed with the facility since 2008. Billy was married to his wife Kari for three years and was an extraordinary father to her three children, Carson, Makenna and Makayla. Billy and Kari had just welcomed their new born son, Rogan, into the family at the time of his untimely death. Billy, always armed with a contagious smile, was known to all for his happy-go-lucky style and unyielding dedication to his family.

The case is expected to last several weeks, and will include expert testimony from mechanical engineers, refinery experts medical examiners, economists and refinery engineers as well as a host of other witnesses, including the victims family members, co-workers, and CVR managers, including CVR CEO Jack Lipinski, who the Plaintiffs have also subpoenaed for the trial.

The tragedy occurred on September 28, 2012. Mann and Smith were tasked with re-lighting an old 1964 model Wickes steam boiler which had been previously shut down during a major turnaround project at the refinery. Since the Wickes boiler was not updated and not equipped with a BMS (Boiler Management System) which would have allowed the boiler to be re-started remotely from a safe distance, Mann and Smith, along with 3 other co-workers had to light and restart the boiler manually. Tragically, the boiler exploded during the process. Both Mann and Smith died as a result of the horrific injuries sustained from the explosion.

The families retained Brent Coon of Brent Coon and Associates (BCA) to sue for the losses. Coon brought in Gary Riebschlager, now of Gary Riebschlager Law Firm, and additional attorneys associated with his firm. Local counsel was also retained with well known and respected trial attorney Richard Tate with Tate, Moeher and King of Richmond, Texas. The firm further enhanced the appellate side of the legal team with the retention of former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina, who had previously been a member of the BCA firm. The target defendant CVR Energy Inc, initially retained counsel, Lee Smithyman of Smithyman & Zakoura, headquartered in Kansas and Terry Fitzgerald of Houston based Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, L.P. Since then Terry Fitzgerald has been replaced as Texas counsel with Phillip Sharp of Martin, Disiere, Jefferson & Wisdom, L.L.P.

The plaintiffs maintain that CVR Energy, as the owner of the facility, failed to install a BMS (Boiler Management System) on the Wickes Boiler, failed to install BMC (Boiler Modulating Control) on all heating equipment as recommended by OSHA and the State of Oklahoma; failed to adequately monitor the dangerous condition of the Wynnewood Refinery, including the Wickes Boiler, failed to alleviate hazardous conditions that cause injury or death to workers, failed to repair hazardous conditions causing injury or death to workers, including the Wickes boiler, and failed to comply with OSHA directives/orders to install BMS (Burner Management System) on the Wickes boiler.

OSHA investigated the September 28, 2012 incident and cited the plant with numerous “serious” and “repeat “violations pertaining to the Wickes Boiler.

“We believe one of the most damning facts is that the company generated over $150 million in revenue in 2012 and that CVR Energy CEO Jack Lipinski alone made an additional $16,336,00 in bonuses just for the same year these men were killed, but yet funding to replace the old boiler system or make it safe just was not provided. There was more than enough money to go around for the millionaire managers and board directors to have directed just a small portion of their enormous profits to much needed improved worker safety, says Gary Riebschlager.

“The loss of life in any workplace incident is tragic and heartbreaking for everyone, especially to the family of the worker. What is most damning in almost all refinery fatalities is that the root cause invariably has something to do with the companies decision not to reinvest some of their enormous profits back into the facility with improved working conditions and safety considerations, says Brent Coon. “Time and time again our firm has seen this failure to reinvest in the workers and the assets directly resulting in loss of life, from Phillips Pasadena in 1989, to BP Texas City in 2005, to BP again in the Gulf Deepwater Horizon rig failure in 2010 and most recently in the Dupont, LaPorte incident just last year. This incident was directly due to decisions to continue to operate a unit with antiquated and worn out equipment, which put the workers at unnecessarily high risk of injury. Even worse, it was a refusal to reinvest in the assets at a time when all the corporate officers here in Texas were rewarding themselves with multimillion dollar bonuses. The greed never seems to end”.

“I have been working on this case every week for several years now, and throughout all the depositions and discovery we now have the full story of what happened and why it happened. It is frankly shocking what lack of concern was demonstrated to maintaining safe operations at the Oklahoma facility”, says Reibschlager. “CVR knew that this refinery was in need of repairs well before they acquired it, specifically in addressing items such as boilers that were so old you had to light them by hand, even though nowadays these are all capable of safe automated ignition sourcing”.

Yeah, and I am surprised they weren’t still utilizing covered wagons and mules to haul supplies around at that refinery”, adds Coon.

BCA is certainly no stranger to high stakes litigation, particularly in the petrochemical arena. Firm founder Brent Coon served as lead counsel in the BP Texas City explosion, which killed 15 and injured thousands. That case ultimately involved several years of intense litigation, numerous trials, over a dozen appeals, and at least one appearance before the Supreme Court which ironically included Justice Medina at the time sitting on the bench. The case resulted in over a billion dollars in recoveries and another billion dollars committed to facility upgrades, and a plea agreement with the Department of Justice to 15 counts of felony manslaughter. “Gary and the team have done a great job getting this case trial ready and while I am baffled that yet another arrogant oil company wants to face a jury with these types of facts rather than settle, we are very anxious to have the opportunity to present this case to the community and our clients are very anxious to finally have their day in court and obtain some closure. The explosion ripped apart their lives and their families, and the healing won’t even begin to start until this case is resolved” says Coon. “Gary and I worked well together a few months ago in another successful verdict and look forward to working with our full legal team in finally obtaining justice for these families in the coming weeks”.


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